This summer, Brett Rypien had a nightmare.
He talked to his father, Tim, the next morning.
“Apparently in it, he wasn’t prepared for the Washington State game,” Tim said. “That’s pretty ironic in a lot of ways.”
Boise State’s sophomore quarterback will be more than ready for the Sept. 10 home opener against the Cougars, where his uncle, Mark, starred before launching an 11-year NFL career.
Being prepared is perhaps the trait that most helped Rypien post an unparalleled debut season last year, a trait he’s grown up with his entire life.
“Honestly, I have bad dreams like that all the time, like I hadn’t watched any film on who we’re playing, didn’t know what was in the game plan,” Rypien said. “That might be normal, I don’t know. But preparation, my uncle was big into that. It’s something I took from him: my parents are always overprepared.
“It’s the biggest thing to being a quarterback, the one thing I can always pride myself on, knowing I’m ready.”
It started from something as simple as laying out his baseball uniform before games when he was 5 years old, and it has turned into a yearlong process to be perfectly confident for a dozen or so fall days.
“Of course, it evolved and changed. He took it to heart and everything that he did to get ready, he took it to the nth degree,” Tim Rypien said.
That mindset was key in allowing the young Rypien to hit the ground running last September, when he was pressed into duty in the Broncos’ third game, the first true freshman to play quarterback at Boise State since Tony Hilde in 1993.
Rypien started the final 10 games, earning first-team All-Mountain West honors and completing 63.6 percent of his passes for 3,353 yards and 20 touchdowns to eight interceptions.
“If you knew Brett, you weren’t surprised,” former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore said. “There are a lot of people that can throw the ball great, but it comes down to making great decisions, and the No. 1 part is being prepared.”
Preparation is what first-year co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Zak Hill noticed when he was hired in January.
“Brett’s a special player. He prepares like no other,” Hill said. “He’s a very hard worker, he’s very dedicated, he cares about football and cares about the people around him. He’s kind of got that ‘it’ factor.”
Said senior offensive lineman Mario Yakoo: “He’s the smartest quarterback I’ve played with since I’ve been here. Brett’s taken it to the next level. I’ve never seen somebody as dedicated as him. ... He enjoyed being thrown into the fire, compared to some people that might shy away from the limelight, but he wanted it.”
That maniacal approach is most apparent to the guys who live with Rypien. Junior running back Jeremy McNichols said the quarterback grasped the playbook within months, even though it took him “a long time.”
“At home, he’s always watching film on his iPad. He’ll come to my room and be like, ‘I need you to do this on this play.’ ... It’s been (like that) since January,” McNichols said.
Sophomore STUD defensive end Jabril Frazier, another housemate, can’t help but be inspired, even if it means getting up early.
“We won’t have meetings until 8 o’clock, and he’s there at 6 o’clock. I’m still in bed, like, ‘Man, I wish I was like that guy,’ ” Frazier said.
Frazier said Rypien will often ask him about defensive concepts, trying to get into the mind of the guys trying to stop him.
“He knows more coverages than the guys on defense do sometimes,” said junior quarterback Tommy Stuart, the backup. “He knows what they’re going to run before they run it, and it’s just like that in the game. He does a lot of film prep, stuff like that, and I think that’s his key to success.”
The concept of leading by example has been put forth by Rypien, despite only a year and a half on campus. Head coach Bryan Harsin said Rypien spent the offseason watching every snap he took to hone in on needed areas of improvement.
“We microwaved him to get him out there. We like them to marinate a little bit, but we had to throw him out there fast,” Harsin said. “He self-evaluates the way we all should. He’s honest about it. He can put the good with the bad.
“Some guys can’t always lead because they don’t do all the work. He works. He puts in the time, he’s there early, he’s there late, first on, last off.”
Last summer, Rypien was willing to take a backseat during player-run practices, but it was his show this year. His sophomore year of high school, he organized summer workouts, a first at the school.
With the Broncos this summer, Rypien said “it was more about the quantity,” that he would get running backs, tight ends and receivers with him to watch game or practice film, “because I want them thinking like me a little bit.”
Once a week, he would try to work with two or three receivers at a time to get in as many throws as possible.
“He’s always looking for that extra edge,” Tim Rypien said.
As good as he was as a true freshman last season, Rypien has continually sought ways to improve, to ready himself more for what he will see this season and beyond.
Opponents, and the record book, look out.
“The fact he was a true freshman, he’s probably only going to get better, which is a pretty scary thought for us and every defense,” New Mexico linebacker Dakota Cox said.
Mountain West coaches on Rypien: